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The best way to measure?

Posted By: Phil Simborg
Date: Monday, 1 December 2014, at 5:23 p.m.

In Response To: The best way to measure? (Timothy Chow)

I do not have data to back up any of my claims that these changes will increas the skill level, largely because none of these ideas have been used enough to measure, and when they were used, they were not measured.

However, there is anecdotal evidence and logic that supports these claims. I think almost everyone will agree that nackgammon is a more difficult game than backgammon and that the more skillful player will win, but that doesn't make it true. But I would certainly bet on Nack Ballard and give odds over any Giant in the world in a nackgammon competition.

Years ago when Nack was clearly the best player in the game, we used to have a side event called "backgammon to lose." It continues to be my favorite variation. For the first three moves you play as bad as you can, then turn the board around and try to win from there. As you can imagine, the positions you would be starting from are very awkward and unusual, and players will not be able to rely on general rules of thumb or reference positions, but rather on their playing skill and ability to work things out over the board. Guess who won the largest number of these side events at the tournaments when this was offered? Nack Ballard.

We have no proof of the existence of gravity and that space being curved is what creates gravity, but all the evidence and logic points that way. We have no proof of anti-matter, but it must be there or nothing in physics works.

I know I'm reaching here, but I have no doubt that if you make the game more complicated by being forced to slot on the opening move, or by starting with more checkers back, or by starting from unusual positions (random-gammon), and by adding more variables into the game (SassonGammon) that you complicate the game more and therefore reduce the luck factor.

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